Aug 30: Paint your own shoes

Learn about possums, and paint some designer shoes—like, you’re the designer!

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Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.

Talking points

Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • This article was written when possums were at their peak in New Zealand – when there about 70 million. Have a quick look at the Predator Free NZ website to find out how many million there are in New Zealand today. How many might there have been by now if there hadn’t been several decades of trapping, shooting and poisoning to control the population?
  • In the first side-bar, “A Tale of Two Possums,” we read that there are three types of mammals – placental mammals, egg-laying mammals (such as the duck-billed platypus) and marsupials (including possums.) Can you find out a bit more about each of these types of mammal?
  • The writer points out that possums are as cute as teddy bears – big dark eyes, a furry pouch and a habit of holding food in its hands like a person as it munches. How do you feel about possums? Do you find them adorable or not? Do you think New Zealanders generally feel differently about the cuteness of possums than Australians, for whom possums are not pests?
  • Can you imagine a big container ship full of leaves and green matter leaving our shores every night, as described in the paragraph about possums eating 21,000 tonnes of leaf matter every 24 hours? Now that the possum population has lessened, how could you adjust this image to reflect the impact of our current possum population?
  • What is your reaction to the description of the New Zealand bush in the Auckland Acclimatisation Society’s report from 1917, which said that “We shall be doing a great service to the country in stocking these large areas of rough bush with this valuable and harmless animal.” Why might they have seen the bush as empty, and possums as valuable and harmless?

Activity: Paint your own shoes

Add some fun and personality to a pair of plain shoes with a few test pots of paint and some masking tape! You can try colour-blocking as in the example below, or try decorating your shoes with pictures and words.

You will need:

  • Clean shoes
  • Paint
  • Masking tape

Step One: Carefully cover any rubber edges with masking tape.

Step Two: Use masking tape to add a design to your shoes, such as the ‘V’ shaped design in this photo.

Step Three: Paint areas one at a time

Step Four: When one colour dries, add masking tape to the edge of it so you can paint another section with clean lines.

Step Five: Carefully remove masking tape from the sole.

Step Six: Send us a picture of your painted shoes!